Chaozhou Gong Fu Brewing – Crushing The Leaves

Chaozhou Gong Fu Brewing – Crushing The Leaves

Don Mei : Hey teaheads! This is Don from Mei
Leaf. In this video : Chao Zhou Style Brewing : Crushing The Leaves. In this video we’re
going to get down into the details of Chao Zhou Gong Fu style brewing, and we’re going
to be seeing if crushing leaves actually makes a difference to the final brew. This video
is going to go under the “Tea Brewing” and the “Teamaster Classes” playlists. If at any
point in time you enjoy this video then make sure you hit it with the thumbs-up. The more
thumbs in the air the more tea videos are going to come your way, and if you haven’t
subscribed to our YouTube channel yet [then] go click that button. I am here with Tracie.
You may remember Tracie. When was it? A long time ago. Tracie : It was over about a year-and-a-half
ago. [laughter] Don : Yeah, we did [it] – on a sunnier day
than today… Tracie : Yes. Don : … we did a video about iced teas…? Tracie : Iced tea. That’s it. Very nice. Don : Iced teas. I’ll put a link in the description
below, [so] you can check it out. She has returned for another video. Tracie : I’m back! Don : Yes! Tracie : I’ve been waiting me turn. You’re
so busy, you know? No, I’m very excited to be back. [laughter] Don : [That’s] so not true. Yeah. The moment
she texted me, “Do you want to do another video?” I was like, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Come over!” Tracie : [laughter] Don : So today, what we’re going to do is
we’re going to get quite geeky on this one today. Tracie : Great! [It’s] my favorite topic. Don : Yeah. So this is proper “geek zone”,
guys. We’re going to dive into Chao Zhou style brewing, and specifically, crushing the leaves,
because I know a lot of you people have asked about it, and it is a technique which is used
in the south of China. So we want to try and understand the logic behind it. A lot of what
I am going to say today comes from understanding – through talking to people in China [and]
from reading bits – but some of it is my own theory. [It] may not be true. but that is
all part of the process. You know? Learning [and] spreading. Tracie : Absolutely, trial and error. Don : Exactly. If you have any other comments
or thoughts about what we’re talking about then stick them in the comments section below.
So let’s begin at the beginning. We released a “flight box” of Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong, which
is this tea here; so “Royal Peach Orchid”. We released a flight box where we did a sampling
of three different grades of Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong. I’m not going to [give too many]
spoilers out there, in case you want to purchase one of those flight boxes. It’s a really interesting
experience, because you get three teas, and you can taste them… Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : … and there’s like a whole direction
so you can kind of learn how I grade this particular type of tea. But the end result
is that one of the teas in there [had] amazing aroma and amazing fragrance… Tracie : Mmm. Don : … but it was lacking body, [and] it
was lacking texture. It was a bit too soft. Tracie : Right. Don : But [it had] very, very like wonderful,
wonderful aromatics. It was one of those teas where I wanted to buy it, but at the same
time there was something missing. Now for me, and for a lot of people in China – and
this is something that [is less] considered in the West… Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : … is that the taste and aroma of a
tea is almost considered secondary to the body, texture, and kind of “feel” of the tea.
You know? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : So it’s kind of like you want a perfect
marriage of all of them together, but the body is considered one of the most fundamental
characteristics of high-quality tea. Right. So with this Mi Lan Xiang [Dan Cong] I didn’t
buy, but instead we put it in a flight box, and I mixed it with a tea which had more body
and slightly less fragrance – [but] still a really high quality Wu Dong Mi Lan Xiang
Dan Cong – but had a little bit more texture and body. The end result is that we have created
this blend here. This is a blend of teas to – in my opinion – get the perfect balance
of body and aromatics. So we’re going to taste that one later, but what I have here [is]
– these are the same teas; so two scoops of the same tea – [where] this is the very highly
aromatic Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong that was lacking body and texture. Tracie : Okay. Don : Right. [It] was a bit soft. We’re going
to be using this to demonstrate a point regarding Chao Zhou brewing, and that is the crushing
of the leaf. So let’s go back in time [to the] Qing Dynasty – [the] early Qing dynasty…
You’re from Malaysia? Tracie : Malaysia, yes. Don : But your parents? Tracie : Yeah, my mom [is] Chinese-Malaysia.
She’s from Kuching… Don : Okay. Tracie : … so on the east peninsula of Malaysia. Don : But probably, your ancestors come from
South China, I would imagine – or Straits Chinese. Tracie : Yeah. Don : Anyway, so this [part of] South China
– [the] Chao Zhou area; Guang Dong province [and] moving up to Fu Jian province – they
basically invented Gong Fu brewing. Tracie : Okay. Don : They’re the people, in early Qing dynasty,
that really created the template for Gong Fu brewing that then spread out, you know,
across China, and has been adapted, and continues to be adapted. Gong Fu brewing [people talk
about as] a ceremony, but it’s not really about the ceremony. It’s more of a discipline.
It’s more about trying to maximize – you know, you’re had lots of Gong Fu brews, right? Tracie : Absolutely. All of them. Don : So trying to maximize the flavor. Tracie : Yes. Yes. Don : Yeah. So there are a few reasons [which]
prompted the development of Gong Fu brewing. One of them was simply its relationship to
[the arts], and martial arts, and discipline, and we can talk about that later. I’ve got
videos planned across a lot of this in-depth diving into Chao Zhou, and Gong Fu, brewing.
This is the first one. Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : Another reason – and one of the main
reasons – is that in South China the people weren’t that rich, and so there was [an] element
of making sure that you got the most out of the leaves. Tracie : Ah! Don : Right. So in order to do that they shrunk
down the teaware, shrunk down the teapots, shrunk down the teacups, and it wasn’t about
taking a beverage. It was much more about really appreciating the taste in small sips,
right? And brewing a smaller amount of leaf – or the same amount of leaf, but brewing
it in a small container – so you can maximize the flavor, fragrance, and effect, versus
brewing what is now considered “Western Style”, but was being brewed before the Qing dynasty,
which was [a] larger amount of water-to-leaf… Tracie : Oh! Don : … and brewing it for a longer period
of time. So [in] Gong Fu style brewing – for those of you who don’t know – really [one
of] the key fundamental tenets of it is [that] you shrink the teaware down, and you have
a large amount of leaf-to-water ratio – in other words, a lot of leaf compared to the
amount of water. Before that – and in “western style” brewing – it was much more about lots
of water with a less amount of leaf, [and] for longer brewing times. Okay? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : So you could, therefore, really kind
of eek out, and maximize,the amount that you could get out of a small amount of leaves
if you shrunk the teaware down, and you really appreciated each and every infusion, and you
could then really just maximize your efficiency. Okay? Tracie : Okay. Don : We can talk more about that on future
videos. One of the other reasons why Gong Fu brewing was created is [that] it was created
around the same time as Oolong tea. Tracie : Oh! Don : Right? [With] Oolong tea, [one] of the
fundamental aspects of Oolong tea is that after the withering and heating phase they
roll the tea. Right? Tracie : Right. Don : So you’ve seen ball-rolled Oolong before,
right? Tracie : Yes. Don : Yeah? Where they really, really roll
it. Tracie : Yes. [Those] super-tight little balls. Don : Exactly. Then you’ve got this style
Oolong, which is “strip Oolong”, but you can see [that] it’s pretty rolled up, right? Now,
they do roll other tea types. For example, you get green teas that are rolled, etcetera,
etcetera. But with Oolong it’s fundamentally part of the process. They have to do that.
The reason why they do that is because they want to take all the juices and they want
to bring [them] to the surface. Tracie : Ah! Don : Right? So they’re kind of bringing out
all of the juices, because the leaf – actually, by itself – is quite waterproof. You know? Tracie : Okay. Don : It has to be, right? In order for it
to survive it needs to be pretty much water proof – [with] there being some ability for
water to transfer – but essentially, it’s waterproof. So when you roll the leaf, and
you crush the leaf slightly, you’re bring all of the juices up to the surface, and those
juices dry up on the leaf. Okay? Tracie : Right. Don : Those juices tend to have a very aromatic
[complex of] aromas – [like] fruits, flowers, creams, [and] all those things. That’s why
Oolong tea is known – [you’re] an Oolong lover, right? Tracie : I’m a huge [fan]. Oolong is my favorite,
yes. Don : So why is Oolong one of your favorites? Tracie : Just because it’s so aromatic… Don : Yeah. Tracie : … and [for me] me it’s very expansive
– the taste of the Oolong tea. I really like the high mountain Oolongs. I feel like I very
much connect with that energy of the mountain, with the Oolong tea. Don : Yeah. Tracie : So [it’s a] big favorite. Don : So you have this very bright, high aroma… Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : … and, as you say, complexity in that
aroma. So all of the work that they’ve been doing – [because] Oolong is a very labour-intensive
tea to make – all of that work is about developing flavor and then bringing it to the surface
so that you’ve got all of these dried leaf juices on the surface that give you this beautiful
aroma as soon as water hits it, right? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : So what you suddenly have is a tea which
is very suited to short infusions, right? Because all of [the flavor] and the aromatics
– or a lot of those bright notes – are brought to the surface of the leaf. Okay? Tracie : Right. Don : So then when you hit it with water you’re
going to extract that more quickly than allowing the water to enter the leaf and dissolve the
solids in the leaf. Right? Tracie : Right. Don : So if you imagine the anatomy of the
tea leaf, you’ve got the dry leaf juices sitting on top of the leaf, and then you’ve got kind
of a membrane… Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : … and then you’ve got like the leaf
solids. Okay? Tracie : Okay. Don : So the water is going to start to dissolve
all of those bright aromatics first, and then slowly enter the leaf and dissolve up those
leaf solids. That will start to extract into the tea. Tracie : Mmm. Don : With Oolong tea, because you’ve got
all of that dry leaf juice, it suits short steepings, because you can get those aromas
very quickly. But also, if you brew too long – in other words, if you take a smaller amount
of leaf and you brew it for a longer amount of time in a larger amount of water – then
those aromatics [are] very fleeting, you know? You’ve got to protect those aromatics. Tracie : Right. Don : Yeah? Tracie : Okay. Don : They will dissipate. So if you leave
a tea, for four [or] five minutes, to brew, those aromatics are going to start to lose
their brightness. They’re going to lose their kind of technicolor approach, [and] it’s going
to be a little bit more muddy. Tracie : Okay. Don : Yeah? So you have, suddenly, a style
of tea that’s being made that suits fast infusions. Yeah? Tracie : Okay. Don : [With] very quick infusions, and really
kind of bringing out all those aromatics very quickly. Yeah? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : That’s why Chao Zhou, and Gong Fu style
brewing, is so intrinsically linked with Oolong teas. But the problem with this, okay, is
that you have all of these aromatics, but sometimes you want some dissolved solids from
the leaf, because those dissolved solids in the leaf [bring] body and texture. Tracie : Mmm! Don : Right? So when we were talking before
about the flight box, and having some Oolong teas – and you may have experienced this yourself
– and you yourself too – that when you brew Oolong teas you get all this aroma, and it’s
amazing – but in the mouth it’s just lacking this kind of dryness, or body, or texture,
and some taste as well. Some of the [leafy] taste – that kind of vegetal taste… Tracie : Ah. Don : .. or some sourness, or some minerality,
that comes more from the leaf material being dissolved, rather than the dry leaf juice. Tracie : Okay. Don : Okay? So sometimes you have teas which
are too soft, but have bright aroma, right? This is where the breaking of the leaf comes
in. Because if you break the leaf up – if you crush the leaf up – then, of course, what
you’re doing is essentially allowing water to enter the leaf material very quickly, [and]
that way it’s extracting the solid leaf material, it’s dissolving that, [and] extracting it
into the tea, and so you’re getting a slightly more richer body… Tracie : Okay. Don : … and a more rounded taste. Tracie : Ah! Don : So this is why this style of brewing
works super well with Oolong tea. So let’s begin with brewing. Tracie : Amazing. Don : We’re going to do a little test here.
I’ve got hot water here. I’m going to now quickly just heat up the teaware. We’re not
going to do a full brewing here, because that would take too long, but we’re going to do
a couple of infusions, and you can judge the quality of this tea. So I’m going to put [4.5
grams] in here, of tea. Tracie : These are the same teas? Don : [They’re] exactly the same tea, but
we’re going to treat one of them slightly differently. Have a sniff of that. This is
Mi Lan Xiang Dan Cong, [or] “Royal Peach Orchid”, and as I said, we’ve got our blended “Royal
Peach” – our Mei Leaf blend has just hit the web site, so you can check that out. So I’ve
got the same amount of tea here, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to take a small
amount, okay? Now this is, again, to personal taste, and you can adapt as you want. What
I’m going to do with this is literally – I’m going to do it close to [the] camera so you
can see – is literally crush this, which I know sounds very strange to people out there,
because we’re always [talking] about how you should have whole leaf. But one of the reasons
why whole leaf is so good is because you can control the brewing. So you can decide how
much you want – in terms of body and dryness – in your tea. Okay, so I’m going to… Tracie : So just a little crush. Don : Yeah. You can see, [if] you compare
that to that. Tracie : Yup. Don : We’re still doing 80 percent [to] 90
percent whole leaf, but we’re doing this crushed leaf here. Tracie : Okay. Don : We’re going to drop in to the teapot,
and we’re just going to shake iit so it hits the back. Right? That does two things. If
you put it at the back it means that, first of all, you’re going to get less of it coming
out of the spout, right? Tracie : Ah! Don : Because now I’m covering [it] here with
the full leaf. So that acts kind of like a filter, right? Tracie : Okay. Don : The full leaf stops too much of the
tea dust from leaving, because we want it there. That’s part of the whole process of
this Chao Zhou style brewing. The second thing is [that] it allows you to control the pour.
So you can also – if you brewed this – [the] first pours are going to have a little bit
more of the full leaf… Tracie : Ah! Don : … and the end pour is going to be
that dry astringency that comes from the broken leaf. So you can then even adapt – according
to your pouring … and a lot of teamasters, what they’ll do is they’ll pour away the first
part, and then they’ll pour into the Gong Dao Bei. Then just when they think, ‘Yeah.
That’s enough of the body.’… Tracie : Ah! Don : … they’ll take it away. So they get
to know the tea. Tracie : Fascinating. Don : So it becomes, yeah, very, very important.
It’s also important that when you pour [the water] … I am not going to rinse this for
this one – but when you pour the water don’t pour it directly over the broken leaf. Tracie : Okay. Don : Right? Because then it’s going to really
extract very quickly. So you want to hit the whole leaf, and then let that water reach
the broken leaf. Tracie : So it’s a real art – a real art from
start to finish. Don : You didn’t think anything else, did
you Tracie? Tracie : No, and here [there’s] a new blend
going on. You’ve done your own, fresh blend. Don : So this is what anybody can do, right? Tracie : Yeah. Don : If you feel that the tea is too soft,
yeah? Tracie : Yeah. Don : … [and] lacks body, but you like the
high aromatics, then what you can do is rather than steeping it for longer – which is going
to, as I said, mean that you’re going to be less economic with your leaf, right? Tracie : Okay. Don : Also, it means that you’re going to
lose the aromatics, because you’re brewing it for too long, right? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : Because it’s going to start to muddy
in there. You can preserve the aromatics whilst getting the body and the texture by doing
this method. Tracie : Okay. Don : That’s the theory of it. Now there are
other theories. Like so, for example, in Chao Zhou brewing a lot of the time what they did
[was they’d use a different] tea for the broken. They would just use cheaper [tea]. Tracie : Oh! Don : So again, that expands this economics
idea. Tracie : Okay. Don : So they’d get some cheap tea to just
add that body. Tracie : Ah! Don : But I think that you can do it with
the highest, highest quality stuff. Obviously, if you can afford to do so it’s a much better
finish. Tracie : Yeah. [That] makes sense. Don : Right. So, as I said, we’re not going
to rinse. We’re going to hit it with 95 degree [Celsius] water. Now you can do this [method]
with all sorts of tea. I would recommend you try it with Oolongs. It’s often used for ball-rolled
Oolongs. Dan Congs already have quite a lot of dryness, okay? So you don’t need to do
it so much with Dan Cong teas. I’m showing you this as an example because [we were] talking
about the flight box. But you could mostly do this with ball-rolled Oolongs, or with
Yan Chas, like “rock Oolongs” – like Da Hong Paos and things like that; or Shui Xians. Tracie : Ah! Don : Just add a little bit to it. Tracie : Okay. Don : Okay. So what we’re going to do is we’re
going to try and brew for the same amount of time here. We’re not going to rinse. We’re
going to go straight in. So, pretty much, immediately. Immediately, we’re going in [for]
a few seconds. So that will be something like a 10-second infusion once the pour is over,
yeah? Already, look at the color of that. [It’s] stunning. Tracie : Yeah! Amazing! Don : Same thing here. So we have to be careful.
We’re going to pour at the front. I don’t want to hit [that] back, dusty part, right?
Again, [it’s] pretty much instant. It’s a different pour. You can see [a] more arch-like
pour, this one. Tracie : Yes. Don : There you go. So [these are] two teas
brewed. They’re exactly the same tea leaves, but one brewed with crushed leaves in there.
Let’s just take a look at the color. Can you see any difference in color? Not really, right?
Anything? Tracie : No. Don : Right. So [it’s] pretty much the same.
So, here we go. Let’s taste this. Tracie : Exciting. Don : Here you go. Let’s try it with uncrushed
– so fully whole leaves first. Cheers, everybody! [SIPS TEA] Tracie : Cheers! [SIPS TEA] Don : So focus on how much aromatics you’re
getting at the beginning. Then after you’ve swallowed, is there structure and finish and
body to the tea? Tracie : [SIPS TEA] Mmm. Don : What do you think? Tracie : It’s super flowery. It’s very aromatic.
[It’s not] too strong. It’s just [a very nice] flowery finish, I think. It [tastes] delicious
though. I love it. [SIPS TEA] Don : Yeah. So [there are] really nice aromas.
You’re getting some honey. You’re getting some orchid. You’re getting, obviously, some
peachy kind of stone fruit notes in there as well. [SIPS TEA] There is some woodiness,
but it’s [a little bit understated]. It’s gentle, right? Tracie : Yeah. Don : It’s there. It adds a little bit of
that backbone. Tracie : Exactly. There’s some depth there.
There is some depth, but it’s kind of like a rockery, where you have like flowers coming
out of the rock. [It] tastes kind of like that – like the flowers coming from the rock. Don : Right. So you’re getting more of the
flowery notes. Tracie : Yes. Don : All right. Let’s try this one here.
So this is the same tea brewed with just maybe 10 percent crushed leaf. Tracie : [SIPS TEA] Mmm! [It’s] different.
[SIPS TEA] Don : [It’s] different – very different. [It’s]
amazing. I mean, it’s surprising, right? Tracie : Yeah! Don : How different it is. [SIPS TEA] Tracie : What I’m feeling with this one is
when I drink it I just feel like it’s much more like earthy. It’s like we’ve gone into
the rock. Don : Mmm. Tracie : It’s more earthy [and] it’s more
grounded. There’s still those floral top notes, [and] I can still taste everything that we
had in this one, but this one just feels more grounded. Don : Right. So yeah, to my taste you’re still
– as you say – [getting] the top notes… Tracie : Yeah. Don : But then you’re getting a little bit
more balance, because you’ve got a little bit more mineral rocks – like your rockery. Tracie : Yeah. Don : You’re getting a little bit more wood,
[and] you’re getting a little bit more earth, and the finish is more quenching. Tracie : Yes. Don : The finish is drier. Tracie : Yes. It is drier, yeah. Don : Now, it’s not about which is better.
It’s more about preference. Sometimes you might prefer soft, light, more about the top
notes aromatics. Tracie : Yes. Don : Sometimes you might prefer this one. Tracie : Exactly. This one is like more full-bodied. Don : Mmm. Tracie : It’s got more…This one is just
[like] yeah. When I think of like a tree, for example, it feels like this one is incorporating
the roots of the tree… Don : Yeah. Tracie : … as well as the branches with
the fruit on [it]. Don : Yeah. Tracie : That’s what it feels like. Don : Yeah. That’s a really good analogy.
I always talk about the “EQ-ing of tea”, right? Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : How top note, mid-range [and] base notes…
As a DJ she knows everything about that. Tracie : I know about music. Don : So yeah, but all like that. The tops
of the trees, the flowers, [and] all of that. But the structure… Tracie : Yes. Don : The body… Tracie : Yes. Don : The roots of it. Tracie : The roots. Like this one would be
the branches and the blossoms of the tree – the fruit of the tree. Don : Yeah. Tracie : But this one is the branch within
the blossoms, but the trunk of the tree. Don : Yeah. Tracie : So taking us down much more into
the earth element. So, yeah, they [both have] a part to play. One is just more kind of like… Don : So when would you drink that one versus
that one, for example? Tracie : This one would be more like [in a
more] meditative space. You know, more relaxation. You know, more relaxation. If I was wanting
to relax and just be in a quiet space I would take the aromatic one. But if I’m doing something
more serious, [like] if I have to do some work [and] I need to focus, I would go for
[this one] because it’s more [full-bodied]. Don : Well, it’s interesting that you say
that, because when you have a [more full-bodied] tea, and you have that more leaf… So what’s
happened here – just to recap – is that this style of brewing has [extracted] some of the
dry leaf juice, but it’s also – because of the broken leaf – it’s been able to extract
some actual leaf material, right? Tracie : Ah. Don : So what you’re getting, therefore, is
you’re going to have more of a potent effect. Tracie : Right. Don : So when you tend to get that more dry
sensation [with] astringency [and] slight bitterness, then it’s more likely that you’re
going to have a more stimulating effect, or it’s going to have a more kind of energetic
effect, or it’s just going to be stronger. So yeah, you’re right. [The softer one] is
much more about maybe that kind of meditative [effect]. You don’t want the tea to have too
much of an effect, but you want, instead, for it to have those aromatics, those bright
notes, [and] those kind of “lift you up”, ethereal notes. Tracie : Yes! Don : You know? Tracie : I mean, the other differentiation
is maybe that this one is more “feminine”, and this one is more “masculine”. I mean,
if we were trying to find words to describe it. Don : Yeah. No, I understand the logic of
that. Tracie : Yeah. The one with the trunk of the
tree, and the more earth notes, is more masculine. Don : Oop! This lid is… Oh! I got the wrong
lid, didn’t I? Tracie : Okay. Don : [laughter] That shows you it’s handmade. Tracie : [laughter] Don : You know, the lid doesn’t fit. But then
they are different styles as well. Okay. So [there’s] clearly a difference, right? We
can brew this again, and again, and again, and I’ve done it, and you can taste the difference.
One of the other advantages of this style of brewing – where you take some crushed leaf
– is that it basically [evens out] the whole experience. Because your first [few] infusions
of this one here – the uncrushed leaf… Tracie : MmmHmm. Don : … will give you much more of those
aromatics – those high notes that we were talking about – and as the leaf starts to
unfurl and extract, and the water penetrates deeper and deeper into the leaf, it’s going
to be less of [those] bright aromatics, and you’re going to get more of those minerals
[and] dries. Right? Tracie : Ah! Okay. Don : So you’re going find this sweet spot
– probably around infusion two, three, [or] four… Tracie : Okay. Don : … where you go, “Ah! That’s a nice
balance.” Tracie : Okay. Yeah. Don : Where it’s not just aromatics, but it’s
not just kind of dryness. Yeah? Tracie : Okay. Okay. Don : When you have the crushed leaf what
you’re doing is essentially evening that out, because from the first brew you’re getting
the mix of aromatics with the leaf material. Tracie : Right. Don : … but then, by the time the water
has started to extract the leaf material of the whole leaf, the crushed leaf has kind
of done all of its work. It’s extracted already. So it’s not really playing much of a part
– as much of a part – in the flavor. Tracie : MmmHmm. Okay. Don : Right? So [in] that way you get a much
more even, [and] longer-lasting sweet spot. Do you understand what I mean? Tracie : Very nice. Yeah. Don : So you get that. Now, let’s try this
one. This is the Mei Leaf blend that we’ve just released. This is whole leaf. I didn’t
crush any of it, but I’ve intentionally blended two leaves. One is this one – the aromatic
one, [which is] very aromatic. [Then I blended it] with one that I felt has more body. Let’s
give this a taste. [SIPS TEA] Tracie : [SIPS TEA] Don : If you compare them – you’re welcome
to help yourself to the others – you can see what we’ve done in making this blend. Tracie : Okay. So now, this is the whole tree.
We’ve got the roots and we’ve got the branches, and the fruits on the tree. The aromatics… Don : So you would say it was closer to this
one than this one? Tracie : I would say [this is the] balance
of those two. It’s a combination of the structure and the rootedness, and the astringency, with
the aromatics on the top. Don : Right. Tracie : So it’s a mix. [SIPS TEA] Don : It is a mix, and so this is an example
of blending… Tracie : Mmm! Don : … and it’s an example of what we can
do if you find that you want to keep it whole leaf, but you want that perfect sweet spot. Tracie : Yeah. Don : [It’s] giving you the body from one
tea, and the aroma from another. Tracie : The aromas that are coming from these
teas is just… Don : I know. Tracie : … I wish we could transfer the
smell through the video, because it just smells amazing right here. Don : Yeah. There’s a lot of good smells here,
[like] flowers [and] honey. Tracie : Honey, yup. Like you say, the orchids
– and the rock. I can smell the earthiness as well. Don : Yeah. Yeah. [It’s] definitely all there.
There is a really highly aromatic tea. That’s why, with Oolong teas – especially these kinds
of teas – it really suits this style of brewing; this Chao Zhou style, or Gong Fu style, brewing.
As I said, Gong Fu style brewing has its roots in Chao Zhou. This is the beginnings of Gong
Fu style brewing, and then it spread everywhere, and you know, it’s become more and more popular.
But it was all about the fact that you suddenly have this type of tea that’s being produced
that have all of these aromatics. You can then start to really play around with short
infusions. But really, it’s a really interesting method – this [crushing] method. I’ve seen
it being done, and I [was always] wondering why they were doing it, and the more I think
about it – as always, [with] the ancients – there was a logic. There is a logic to it.
It may not have been totally clear to them when they were doing it, but there’s a logic
when you think of the science of the dry leaf juice and the dissolved solids in the leaf.
How would you sum [it] up? Which is your favorite tea? How would you sum [it] up? Tracie : Well, I love the way that we’ve done
this. I love the way that we started with this more aromatic one, that’s much more – like
I mentioned before – like the tops of the tree, the branches and the fruit of the tree… Don : [SIPS TEA] Yeah. Tracie : … and the aromatics. I love that.
It makes me feel as if my lungs are expanding. There’s a lot of space there. But this one,
which is more astringent, really feels like I’m going down into my roots. Don : It’s more grounding. Tracie : [It’s] more grounding, [and] more
earthy. It’s got that earth element to it. I work with the elements, so for me it’s really
interesting to look at teas in this way. But I have to say that my favorite is the blend,
because that is the one that brings the tea together. So I’m feeling the roots, and the
groundedness of the tree and the earth, but also enjoying the flavors and the aromatics
of the flowers as well. Don : Mmm. Tracie : So yeah, the last one. Don : Yeah, so [laughter] well done. Tracie : Thank you. [laughter] Don : So I think the differences between these
two [is that] they’re very similar in terms of the flavor. This still has the aromatics,
but there’s a certain kind of slightly overly astringent note there. I think you can control
it by making sure you grind the right amount of leaf, and that’s going to depend upon the
tea, and your own personal choice. The great thing about this one is that, for me, that’s
the perfect balance, in terms of body, texture, dryness, and the aromatics. Tracie : Yes. Don : I forgot to say [that] Tracie works
with elements. She has her own company…? Tracie : Company, yes. Don : … and whole business around elemental
resonance? Tracie : Elemental resonance. Don : Go check her out on YouTube. I’ll put
a link in the description below. She’s just started her YouTube channel. Tracie : I have [some videos up there]. Don : She needs support [out there]. So yeah,
go and check her out. But yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. I love looking at these kind of in-depth
things that were done from [the] 1600s… Tracie : Absolutely. Don : … that actually makes sense when you
try them out. So check it out, and again, the beautiful thing about whole leaf is [that]
it gives you this control. If you find a leaf which is too soft – in terms of texture – you
can break it to extend the kind of texture and body by dissolving those leaf solids in
the actual tea itself. That’s why you should always stay away from tea bags, because all
you get is the dust, and you have no control at all. This gives you all the control. Some
people might like a really, really dry tea. [If so], then grind up 20 percent. I know
[that] in ChaoZhou they like it really, really hard. Tracie : Do they? Don : They like it very, very, really, really
strong, [and] very kind of puckering. Tracie : [laughter] Don : You know, you feel it in your throat
for like [hours] afterwards. It’s like constantly gripping, but that’s the way they like it.
So it’s all about personal taste. There’s no right or wrong, but use this technique,
[and] don’t be afraid to crush up those leaves. That’s it teaheads. Thank you very much, Tracie. Tracie : You’re welcome. It’s an honor to
be here, as usual. Don : As always, you’re welcome back for any
other videos that you want to do. [It] saves me being all alone here drinking tea. Tracie : [laughter] Don : If you guys made it to the end of this
video then make sure you hit it with a thumbs-up. Check out our YouTube playlists and let us
know if there are any videos that you would like us to make. If you’re ever in London
then come visit us in Camden to say “Hi!” and taste our wares. If you have any questions
or comments then please fire them over. Other than that, this is Tracie, [and] I’m Don from
Mei Leaf. Thank you for being a part of the revelation of true tea. Stay away from those
tea bags, keep drinking the good stuff, and spread the word, because nobody deserves bad
tea. Bye [WAVING] Tracie : Bye [WAVING]

33 thoughts on “Chaozhou Gong Fu Brewing – Crushing The Leaves”

  1. It's just a little crush:

    Good luck getting rid off this song while crushing your leaves. 😛

  2. Very interesting to see some different brewing techniques.
    I'd like to see some more videos on the health benefits of tea, presumably the microbes in Pu Erh and aged teas will have some effect on digestion etc.
    Is there any information on whether tea can affect sport performance? I had some matcha before the gym this morning and had a really intense workout. I think there was more going on than just caffeine!

  3. This morning, I had the dust from a pack of Sip Spring that I'd been saving to try out. It was a different experience. This video basically explains why, in a slightly different way. Good timing!

    I did the crush test using some Lost Robe before finishing the video. My 5 year old took part too. He is the one who suggested we do the test ourselves…All the kids now enjoy drinking the good stuff, Don!

    I'll be honest with you, we weren't expecting that much difference, so we were surprised at the transformation. Impressive results. Thanks for bringing this one to our attention.

  4. Wow, I had never heard of Chaozou brewing before, I cant wait to try it out. I happen to have some lost robe still in my drawer, that one might crush well lol, thanks for the video as always =)

  5. as a queer person i don't like the definition of "feminine" and "masculin" teas… the video is very informative and i can't wait to try it with my special taiwanese oolong 🙂

  6. Hey teaheads!!
    This is a digital copy of Thomas Short' "A Dissertation Upon Tea" from the year 1730 AD, and an absolutely fascinating source of European tea culture from the first quarter of 18th century. Jump to pages 7 to 18, and you will find him talking about the picking and processing of tea, types of tea, how it's faked and prepared for drinking. Fascinatingly, Short states at p.13 that green tea is better for the purposes of European (British) consumers, and at p.16 he clearly argues against milk in tea but approves the use of sugar in later chapters!
    Some may ask, how does that book fit into Don's video? Well, at p.13 Short advices to mix Pekoe and Congo together to balance their different properties; Congo gives up his flavour much quicker while Pekoe lasts longer, essentially the same case as with crushed and whole leaf in this video. Also, Short advices to pour off the water "presently" (instantly) when infusing Congo, which kind of suggests short steepings Chinese-style were known to the educated public of the 1720's Britain.
    This is where I am inclined to modify Don't iconic slogan "the revelation of true tea", to revelation and re-discovery of true tea! , because that is truly the case of a part of our own historical culture (as far as the reader identifies himself as European) being lost to us to the point of total lack of recollection and recognition.

  7. Great to see Tracy again. Will Axel also be back? I‘ll try this experiment out, still have 1 portion of MLX left from the flight box. 😇

  8. I liked "gong fu brewing is more a dicipline" that's what I like so much about your videos, it's down to earth no chi chi about tea strait to the facts and why it is good or not good.

  9. Wowsie! I'm watching two people sit and pour hot water from a kettle into tea pots and drinking tea. Yet I'm not bored. Moreover the opposite. You'd be surprised to learn that I was excited to learn that there's going to be a third tea pot coming into action with the Mei-Leaf blend. Crazy, right?

  10. I guess that in order to find out how the Mei-Leaf blend would taste with some crushed leaf we have to buy some. Good marketing, I'm hooked and can't wait to try! The whole idea of crushing some leaf and leaving some whole is just mind blowing. I've learned something new. Thank you Don, and thank you Tracy for being a returning guest on the show.

  11. Thanks again for information available almost nowhere else! The history of the timing of development on gong fu cha and oolong tea, the bit about where the body of tea derives and whence the aroma/taste. You can tell I am a total GEEK! Thanks for giving me an outlet, no one around me understands my obsession with tea. Tea drunk on Yiwu currently. Completely in thrall to the leaf.

  12. Thanks Don for yet another great and inspiring video! This method of crushing leafs is very interesting and I can’t wait to experiment with this.

  13. This was incredibly enlightening and fascinating. I didn't know any of this history or theory and I'm now keen to do my own experiments. Thank you! I'm really looking forward to the future videos about gong fu you mentioned. 🙂

  14. Hi Don, does this mean you won’t be carrying 2018 MLX or are you just releasing the 2017 blend in the remaining small amount left from the flight box? Thanks! I’d be actually more interested in a perfect 2018 version, although I’m sure the blend is fantastic as I did that with the tea liquor while doing the flight box. Thanks!.

  15. When are you going to sell us yellow clay Chaozhou pots 😀 ? You promised me in London that you will look into them, also those clay cups … i need them 😀 hehe

  16. Is it true that new Yixing clay teapots steal flavour for a year or so before they start to give back?

  17. For the best information I've personally come across on the Chaozhou brewing method, see the following article:

    The writer has also posted respective articles on Shao An, Anxi and Yixing/Taiwanese brewing methods. All complete with photos, diagrams and step-by-step instructions. Best way to find them is via the following link:

  18. Incidentally, if anyone's wondering, the broken leaf section positioned carefully in the pot is referred to as a 'cha-dan' or 'tea gall'.

  19. Looks like you got yourself some Jingdezhen cups. Or are they from Chaozhou? Chaozhou are, of course, also known for producing fabulous eggshell cups, if somewhat less fine. I can't imagine they're Dehua.

  20. SUPER-D! Whoa! It looks like you've hit the button on your "Fine Tea, Cuisine, and Lady Machine" and pumped out another gem! Now we're really starting to "go deep" into the ART and SCIENCE of tea. It looks like you've found a way to "make peace" with your arch-nemesis, the "tea dust", and actually figured out a way to TRANSMUTE that dust from foe to friend. Yes, blending the TEXTURES of the leaf (by crushing in this case) brings us into the physics/chemistry/art realm of the Gong Fu process, as well as the more general CULINARY aspect of tea. I like the analogy of the tree, as anyone who has even the most rudimentary knowledge of (Mandarin) Chinese languagee (and Chinese philosophy in general) realizes the serious importance and symbolism of "the tree" in Chinese cosmology. What's also important to consider is that the concept of Chi fits right in here, with the roots of the tree (ESPECIALLY with Gu Shu) reaching down into the earth of ENERGIZING the leaves with "Earth Chi". This is likely a contributing factor to the more intense "body feel" which is referred to when comparing the effects of the surface aromatics versus the actual leaf (the leaf itself having a higher concentration of Qi). That is, the higher Qi correlates with the higher concentration of earth minerals which are drawn in by the roots into the leaves, and (in my opinion) a main factor determining the energetic and psychoactive effects of (good) tea come from the minerals. Ancient and natural healing traditions are/were well aware of the positive effects of minerals on physical and mental health (ex. copper, iron, zinc and their associated deficiencies playing a significant role in diseases as serious as dementia, heart diease, etc.). Also intereting is the fact that Tracie does Chi Gong work related to the elements, and water is an interesting element in both tea and Chinese cosmology. in metaphysics, water is actually considered to provide a COMMUNICATION channel between the earth and trees and humans, and since we are talking about Gong Fu I found a cool quote by bruce Lee related to water : "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." Several relevant and parallel anologies here (tea, life, etc.) I find Gong Fu brewing to have this general "water-like" quality in that each session is a process which flows in various dimensions, based on various factors which are both shorter term ("in the moment") and longer-term (the result of the farming and processing processes). Looking forward to the future videos in this series.

  21. So nice to see Tracy back, She has such a calming voice 🙂 I tried this chaozhou method of brewing before but it's not very suitable for my taste. I usually prefer fully whole leaf and if there is any crushed leaf or tea dust I have to brew extremely shortly or it will be too bitter for me. Of course everyone is different :))

  22. I once crushed some yellow tea and ran it through an espresso machine. It retained all flavor except the leafiness.

  23. This is super interesting. Back here in India, my mother always brews with whole leaves on the stove for a bit, and then pours the liquor into a teapot that contains a mixture of broken leaves, milk and sugar. The pot gets a quick stir and she then pours.

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